5. War against war!

War against war!

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Scenes of everyday horror

In 1924 Ernst Friedrich published his book “War against War!” in Berlin.
He later opened a museum for the horrors of the Great War, closed by the Nazis in 1931.
Friedrich, a pacifist, anarchist and conscientious objector, was clearly against capitalism, the cause, in his opinion, of all wars. But regardless of his political position, we believe the civil courage he showed by placing the true, raw, unique and indisputable result of the war in front of the eyes of the world has an absolute value.
The images speak for themselves. His brief comments leave no room for interpretations: there is only one single truth to the war.
You will have no doubt about it when you see this collection of old, discoloured and fading images.
These are images usually kept hidden, things that many do not wish to see, that cause fear or disgust on many. These images are reality: war is all this. All around you there was once massacre and suffering.
Such suffering that its traces are still visible and tangible.
The men of 1914-1918 are no more: what remain are the mountains, exploded, drilled, dug into, fought against, hated and loved.

To all of humanity!

I, mistakenly defined “German” instead of simply “human”, make an appeal to the glacial lands of the North, to Africa, to America, to Asia and to all of Europe, and I yell these words to all those who can hear me: humanity and love. Just like an Australian cries and suffers, laughs and is happy, you, too, brother, Inuit or African or Chinese or whatever you are, and I, we all cry and suffer in the same manner, we all laugh with joy and are happy.
All human beings rejoice and suffer in the same way, so let us all fight together against war, a monstrous enemy.
Let us protest together and cry together against this cursed massacre of which we are all equally guilty. But we must also hope for a dawn of peace and freedom: long live the country of all countries, the country of humankind!

Ernst Friedrich

Ernst Friedrich’s volume, “War against War!”
(original title: Krieg dem Krige!)
was published by Oscar Mondadori, 2004


The images you will see show, objectively and inexorably, the reality of war, without filters or rhetoric. Friedrich did not intend to show war images that were somehow filtered, but images of the war, sometimes even with violence, with their uncomfortable and censured truth, that of ten million dead by hunger, strains, grenades, mines, bombs and execution; that of soldiers thrown in common graves, of soldiers used as cannon fodder, mutilated, ruined, of malnourished civilians, of raped women...
Through this gallery, words reacquire their most authentic, truthful, terrible meaning, so we never forget what war is like, regardless of all lies, hypocrisy, prejudice or conviction.

From days in August 1914. Enthusiasts... of what?

Daddy in a heroic pose in enemy lands

Photograph taken for a family magazine

Daddy was found two days later

A flame thrower: as if the entire world caught fire...

The effect of a flame thrower: like the fire of hell...

From an army report: “Nothing new in the front”

News from a newspaper:

His Majesty the Emperor is glad to grant the Order of Merit (for extraordinary merit) to our distinguished air force hero... for his seventh aerial victory

A truly “extraordinary” victory

Emperor Wilhelm II:
“I shall guide you towards glorious times”

We will hold our positions...

...until the last man falls

Russian soldier hit in the heart

His corpse went stiff immediately and remained in this position for the entire duration of the battle, being therefore targeted by enemy fire.

It is “just” a dead soldier

And you, women!

If your men are too weak, you can do it!
Show that your love for your men is stronger than all calls to arms!
Do not let your men go to the front!
Do not decorate their rifles with flowers!
Hang your arms around your husbands’ necks and do not let them leave, not even when the recruitment postcard arrives!
Tear apart rail tracks, thrown yourselves in front of locomotives!

You, women, must succeed,
if your men are too weak!


Ernst Friedrich
late July 1924

This is the fate of your sons in the war: killed and stripped of everything, abandoned and left to the animals

The pride of the family: a photograph in an “interesting” pose

The pride of the family: the other side of the coin, a few weeks later

Soldier life is wonderful!

“No death is sweeter than death by enemy fire”

Old military song

This is how a general is buried, he who died sweetly in his sleep behind the front lines...

...and this is how they get rid of the bodies of proletarians in the front

Peoples of Europe, protect your most precious assets

Made “in the image and likeness of God”... with an anti-gas mask

A vain attempt to reanimate a victim of poisonous gas

...man and horse, together to their last breath...

Villages destroyed

“Mine is a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a tavern of thieves”

“What I am and what I have, I owe it all to you,
my country!”

“Be assured of the gratitude of your country.”

The real face of war

The light in the eyes is a noble gift of God

A 25-year-old peasant, wounded by grenade shards in 1916

A mangled face was partially reconstructed after numerous operations

A marble tombstone for the high officer...

...and a wooden cross for the “simple soldier”

War cemetery in Wilna-Antokol (in every tomb there lies a son)

“Thousands of crosses proclaim: Germany, you have sowed loyalty!”
Father Walther Nithack-Stahn in his Easter sermon in 1915

In the summer, the “War against War!” high-altitude section can be visited in a spectacular cave in the Italian post located in Sasso di Costabella, Alta Via Bepi Zac - Bruno Federspiel, Creste di Costabella, San Pellegrino Pass.
The post can be reached by climbing steep wooden steps, using suitable equipment (rope and carabiners) and good climbing skills.
Territory chaperones and volunteers of the “Sul Fronte dei Ricordi” association are available for guided tours in absolute safety.